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by Chris Wayan, 2002-3

Planetocopia, a series of virtual worlds, includes Tilt!, Futures, the Biosphere Variations, and Caprices.

Let's tilt the world!
A series of alternate Earths, playing with
climatology, evolution, and cultural geography.
a warm, flooded world
a steady-state ice age
the world on its head
a world testing Jared Diamond's theories


Take a globe of the Earth. Pry it loose from its stand. Now choose new poles, anywhere you like--well, opposite each other would be smart! Drill holes at the new poles and plug the old pole-holes and put your globe back on its stand... tilted.

Now spin it. Spin it for a million years! While you contemplate the following questions:

Rough in your new world, land by land. Expect a lot of corrections--climate, like evolution, is feedback chaos!

Now paint your globe. Deep green jungles, olive savannas and scrublands, yellowish grasslands, green temperate forests, pine-dark subarctic forests, brown and reddish deserts, pale sand dunes, black lava fields, white ice, turquoise reefs and shallows, indigo abysses.


Now step back and evaluate. Overall, are your seas and lands more or less fertile? Have you gained or lost?

You can try to maximize biomass, or biodiversity, or the most habitable land; or simply try to minimize dead or marginal lands; or even try to create the most places with conditions likely to evolve intelligent creatures--not just nature, but culture. Or you can simply aim for the strangest Earth.

Remember, you're not God. The game is TILT, not CONTINENTAL DRIFT or RANDOM WORLDBUILDING (not that those aren't fun too). You're stuck with the landforms we know. OK, if Norway were tropical, it wouldn't have fjords, and Baffin Bay might not exist without the last Ice Age to weigh it down, and so on. Change details, if you can justify them. But hands off world geography!--the tectonic plates, continents, seas, shelves, mountain ranges. Don't shift the continents around, or add new ones. No matter how you turn things, the Pacific is big, Tibet is high, Timbuktu's a long way from the sea. You get to choose only one thing--the placement of the poles. The rest, you have to extrapolate. Because nothing teaches climatology faster than having to create a climate.

Oh--one final question. Do you like the world you made?

EXAMPLE 1: Seapole--a flooded world
EXAMPLE 2: Shiveria--a steady-state ice age
EXAMPLE 3: Turnovia--the world on its head
EXAMPLE 4: Jaredia--a Petri dish for cultural diffusion

Planetocopia, a series of virtual worlds, includes Tilt!, Futures, the Biosphere Variations, and Caprices.
See also dreams of alternate Earths.

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